The Cleveland Kurentovanje Winter Festival Draws Thousands
The Kurentovanje winter festival will bring thousands to the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood.
Cleveland is the only other place outside of Eastern Europe to hold this Slovenian carnival.
The main attraction is a mythical monster called a Kurent who, as a part of Slovenian tradition, is believed to have powers to chases away winter and usher in spring.
“They are 6 feet tall,” said Vickie Zak, who has help with the event the last four years. “And they are made out of sheep skin. They have huge horns on the top of their head with feathers and ribbons and they are furry.”
About 10 Kurents will be marching down east St. Clair Avenue near 55th at the 4th annual Cleveland Kurentovanje Carnival.
Zak says this is a way for members of the local Slovenian community to celebrate and share their heritage with a particular version of Mardi Gras.
Cynthia Brookins with St. Clair Superior Development Corporation, who also help to organize the event, agrees.
“This area back in the 30's and 40's was a huge Slovenia and Croatian community,” she said. “They worked at White Motor and all the industrial companies and a lot of them moved out to the suburbs. There are still a lot of people here but they are all over. So, when they hear about this, they come."
New to the festivities this year is the Kurent Jump, an event keeping with Slovenian tradition, where people can see the mythical monster for the first time since the last carnival.